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Wife of accused phoned gardaí when DJ Bobby Ryan's body was found, courts hears

Farmer Patrick Quirke (50) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan.

0688 Patrick_90563294 Farmer Patrick Quirke leaving the Central Criminal Court in Dublin Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE FIRST GARDA on the scene when DJ Bobby Ryan’s body was found noticed that the accused man’s hands were “extremely clean” considering he had been working with slurry that morning.

Farmer Patrick Quirke (50) of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the murder of part-time DJ Bobby ‘Mr Moonlight’ Ryan on a date between 3 June 2011 and April 2013.

Ryan’s body was found in a run-off tank on the farm leased by the accused at Fawnagown, Tipperary in April 2013. The prosecution claims that Quirke murdered Ryan so that he could get back with the deceased’s girlfriend Mary Lowry (52) with whom the accused had previously had an affair.

Inspector Padraic Powell told David Humphries for the prosecution that he was the first at the scene. When he arrived Quirke and his wife were sitting on a wall. He said Quirke brought him to the tank where he said he had located a body. The tank was underground, covered by a concrete slab and there was a pipe from a slurry tank going down into it.

Powell said his priority was to establish whether there was actually a body so he didn’t engage in much conversation with Quirke. He couldn’t see anything from a standing position so he knelt down and could see what appeared to be the “outline of human remains”. Visibility, he said, wasn’t great and the body was covered in what appeared to be a transparent algae.

He said he observed that Quirke was “extremely clean” considering he had been working with slurry. His hands and clothes were clean, he said, and he was “very quiet”.

‘No doubt’

Under cross examination he told Lorcan Staines for the defence that he had “no doubt” he was looking at a human body when he knelt down. He accepted that he did not make a statement about what he saw that day, including about the cleanliness of the accused’s hands, until more than two years later and he made no notes at the time.

Retired garda Tom Neville told Michael Bowman for the prosecution that the accused man’s wife Imelda phoned him on his mobile phone on 30 April 2013. He knew it was her because he had her number stored in his phone having previously gotten to know her through the local hurling club. She told him a body had been found in a tank at Mary Lowry’s land in Fawnagowan. The witness told Quirke not to touch anything and dispatched officers to the scene.

The jury also heard from garda interviews given by the accused after Ryan went missing and following the discovery of his remains.

Detective Garda Martin Steed told Bowman that he interviewed Quirke in June 2011 at the accused man’s home. In that statement the accused said he had a ten-year lease on Mary Lowry’s land at Fawnagowan and started grazing cattle there after her husband Martin died.

On the day Ryan went missing Quirke said he saw Mary Lowry that morning but didn’t stop to talk to her. He worked, he said, until midday and left for a holiday with his wife and family. 

In November that year Detective Garda Kieran Keane took another statement from Quirke in which he said that he wished to add to his previous statement that he began seeing Mary Lowry in early 2008 after her husband died. They were “off and on for a while,” he said, and they both knew there was no future in it. The break-up, he said, was not amicable. She had met Ryan a few months before and Quirke was, he said, “very angry with her” when he found out.

On one occasion he said he saw texts from Ryan on her phone and took the phone. He replied to Ryan that Lowry was with him, Quirke, now.

Quirke further told gardaí he wanted to remain friends with Lowry and that he told her things he has never told anybody else but she wanted nothing to do with him. He further described a meeting he had with Ryan after Lowry told Ryan about the earlier affair.
They met at a hotel and talked for about an hour. He told Ryan that he was in a bad place and getting counselling. He was friendly, Quirke said, and sympathetic having had a relationship break-up himself.

‘Curious’

On the day Ryan disappeared Quirke said he was at the farm unusually early, at 8.45am, because he was going away with his family that day. He said he doesn’t think he ever saw Ryan at Lowry’s home although he did see his van there on St Patrick’s Day. He saw  Lowry that morning and waved to her across the yard. He was gone by 9.15am and heard about Ryan’s disappearance that evening. He took part in searches for Ryan when he returned from his holiday, he said.

In March 2013, Quirke gave a cautioned voluntary statement to gardaí at Tipperary Garda Station after he was seen on CCTV footage around Lowry’s home at Fawnagowan on 3 December 2012. Detective Garda Steed said the accused told gardaí that he went into Rita Lowry’s home – Mary Lowry’s mother-in-law who lives in an adjoining property at Fawnagowan.

He went inside, he said, to turn on the heating. He also rang a doorbell and opened the post box but he said he didn’t think there were any letters inside. While in the shed area he noticed there were women’s underwear on the clothes line and looked at the label because, he said, he was “curious”. He took the underwear off the line and then put them back.

He said he then tried a key that he had previously found in the yard in the lock of her front door and when he pushed the handle it opened. He heard the beep of the alarm and “panicked, having realised what I had done was wrong.” He got in his jeep and drove away. The following day he explained to Mary Lowry what had happened and gave her the key.

The trial continues in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of six men and six women.

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Eoin Reynolds

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